Pashtun thrown to the wolves
BY HABIB KHAN: Bearing seventy three years brutality and oppression of Pakistani state since the partition of sub-continent, in the present time Pashtuns just yell this burden in the historical trepidatious words of their freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan aka Bacha Khan Baba “You have thrown us to the wolves” spoke to All India Congress leader Ghandi during the partition plan outlined by the British viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten. Michael A. Roberto says in his book ‘Know What You Don’t Know’ that great leader predicts problems before they occur. The Leaders always foresee the future with their political preciseness Bacha Khan, proponent of secular non-violent movement, was one of the leaders who were against the partition of sub-continent on the religious basis. His fears come true when one sees the reality of today’s Pakistan. Neither ethnic communities nor religious minorities have been protected, satisfied, freed and pleased under the Muslim inheritors of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who repeatedly promised complete security and equality to all the denizens of the state under the federation. Hazara of Quetta are on hunger strike for the right to live life, Pashtun is questioning the state that what kind of freedom is this where we are being sacrificed for the strategic proxy war of the state. All these oppressed groups want the answers of the their grievances directly from specific institute of the state that Pakistan army, dominated by majority Punjabi elites, presumes themselves the genuine inheritors of this country, backing its ownself as the army before the existence of state which never has been possible in world history. Today, Pakistan was brought to the level of such intolerable, prejudice, repression and exploitation where the history, cultures, arts, languages, dignity and heroes of other nations (Pashtun, Sindhi, Baloch and Saraiki) in the federation are being marginalised, harassed, refused and prosecuted through media, textbooks and film theatres. The real heroes of the other nations were deliberately erased from state texts, commemorative plaque or declared them traitors and agents. Actually, these were the people who alone sacrificed their lives, properties and jailed for the freedom of their motherlands and fought against British Raj.
Pashtun, as a nation who remained the rulers on the region of several historically great civilizations for centuries, between Khurasan and the Indian subcontinent, has been passing through critical situation of its history due the oppressive policy and subjugation of Pakistan and global powers since four decades. Today, Pashtun land was converted as a war economy zone via organized imposed Islamic terrorism, extremism and sectarianism which has taken more than 60,000 Pashtun lives, demolished their business and infrastructures. Pashtuns were displaced from their homes and villages to other places where they were persecuted and racial profiled. Since three months of the uprising of Pashtun at the platform of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), enforced gagged Pashtuns have opened their mouth and broke the handcuffs in the solitary confinement of castle of Islam, Pakistan and decided not be frightened, stoic and apathetic anymore in this country on inhumanity and humiliation. They are now speaking and questioning the truths directly to the powerful military elites about the atrocities committed in their lands with different strategic justifications and turned Pashtun land as a war zone for international terrorist organisations and networks.
Since more than sixty years, Pakistan army’s elite generals have been ruling in the country through direct-indirect interventions, military coups, pseudo-democracy or judicial martial-law. Pakistan Army has illegally augmented much larger power beyond its military domain despite bounding to the state constitution. Example is the recent touted Bajwa Doctrine which dictates all policies of the state from domestic to foreign, security to business and army’s conglomerate of all business in Pakistan and abroad. No one in political government, parties and institution can dare to raise any single objection to the military policies and business complex defined in this doctrine. If anyone has to do, he would be sent to home from the office or blackmailed in corruption charges like the three times elected premier Nawaz Sharif was behaved and ousted. That is how, the entire elected upper house and parliament both is silent on questioning Bajwa Doctrine. Even the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is the titular chief executive of the state because all the real power held by army generals. This fact was visibly observed by delegates of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) when they had visited Prime Minister Abbasi in February. According to the delegates of PTM that “when we were telling the atrocious tragedies and grievances of the ignorant people suffered in more than 15 years of conflict in FATA by militants, Pakistani security forces and secret agencies with targeted killing, abducting, disappearing and detaining our loved ones and demolishing our houses and markets in army jets’ bombardments. The Premier of the state was saddened while listening and looking us with just teary and incapacitated eyes. So as we had found this fact of powerlessness and far approachableness of Prime Minister, we just turned toward GHQ next day for our due demands who traditionally keeps the real power.” That’s how it became the art of political slogan of PTM “Yeh Jo Dehshatgardi Hai Iss key Bechy Wardi Hai” means ‘the man in uniform is behind terrorism’.
In FATA, army is notorious for avarice and plunderer after Taliban and the people consider the presence of Pakistan military, exercising power on the name of defence, in their areas as plunderers of their lands and resources. Army has no care and cure of their lives and properties but only people’s lands. After 9/11, thousands of Arabs, Chechens, Uzbeks and Tajiks including Chinese Uyghurs terrorists were escaped to Pashtun dominated areas and these terrorist networks were patronised and sheltered by Pakistan intelligence agencies. From Bajuar to Waziristan to FRs, including Darya Gomal and all five other agencies of FATA, were transformed into the centre of state-sponsored transnational terrorist networks, from these areas these networks were continuing their interference in Afghanistan, Kashmir, China and Central Asia. If any local person were questioning about these non-natives armed persons in their areas, he was brutally killed in targeted killings and bomb blasts and his family were threaten to leave the area. The family of Ali Wazir, the PTM leader, is an example of this fact when his elder brother Farooq Wazir was the first person killed in the series of targeted killings in FATA. Farooq Wazir belonged from a very prominent family of Zalikhail Wazir of South Waziristan and he was a member of Pashtun nationalist party of Mahmood Khan Achekzai, Pashtunkhwa Mili Awami Party. His only crime was that of asking and making consciousness about those foreign terrorists at his hometown, Wanna. After his killing, the foreigners have killed his father, Mirza Aalam Wazir along with other 10 family members after one month and their properties and businesses were demolished. Till today, this series of targeted killings of prominent families in FATA have crossed to more than 1200. The rebellious and volcanic slogans in Ali Wazir’s public speeches are the reason of those brutalities and pains his family has faced since many years.
Despite frequent atrocious incidents, discrimination and mistreatment the Pashtun faced in Pakistan, till they didn’t take fierce and rancorous actions against state or any institution but struggling through decent, peaceful, political and civic means; protests, mass gatherings, long marches to accomplish their due rights guaranteed in the constitution of state particularly the right to life existence. This can be reputed in the recent uprising of Pashtun mass movement under the umbrella Pashtun Tahfuz Movement for political, social and economic rights in Pakistan. This movement is one of the larger movements of an ethnic group in Pakistan history, where people of the all sectors fully support and participate it. However, despite showing penitent towards this peaceful uprising of an oppressed Pashtun class, state intentionally antagonises the people by slate imputing and labelling them foreign secret agencies agents or traitors. Answering to the valid questions of Pashtun youths of PTM and accepting the criminal responsibility, state threatens them with intentionally sabotaging and stifling the voices of the PTM peaceful rallies through old-fashioned approaches and tactics which are totally useless attempts this time and bad omen for this already weakened federation of Pakistan. It’s very appropriate time for state to give positive answer to historical deceits and violations committed against other ethnic groups in the federation. This uprising most not be considered as ulterior ‘engineered protest’ as Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa labelled it in his recent speech but it’s a temporal fact someday awaited to quest for identity, rights, sufferings, pains, fears and unpleasantness people faced in this post-colonial. This Pashtun movement of the new generation is the collective spontaneous engineering, created in more than 4th decades oppressed and brutalised actions of state towards the citizen and it should be dealt with honest rationality and logic in this 21st century’s principled federation, not with force and denial.
By Habib Khan: The writer is a masters student of International Relations at QAU Islamabad.